IHCA Statement on HSE Winter Plan 2018/2019
Friday 7th December 2018: The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has said it is concerned that the HSE’s Winter Plan unveiled yesterday is inadequate to address the high risk of an extremely damaging hospital crisis in the New Year, which could last for months. This is because the Plan has been announced too late and it is very limited given the huge capacity deficits that have built up in our public hospitals over the past decade.
Dr Donal O’Hanlon, IHCA President, said that the number of people who will experience delays on trolleys will remain unacceptably high until additional acute hospital beds are opened and staffing levels are increased. The fundamental cause of the overcrowding and delays in providing care to patients is the capacity deficit in terms of acute infrastructure, hospital consultants and other frontline resources.
He said the additional 75 acute hospital beds to be funded for six months under the Winter Plan is not enough to ease the severe overcrowding currently experienced in our public hospitals. We already have the highest hospital bed occupancy rates in the developed world at 94%, significantly ahead of the OECD average of 77%. With high occupancy rates and low numbers of beds there is no ‘buffer’ to absorb extra patients during the winter when demand is at its highest.
The curtailment of outpatient, elective inpatient and day cases under the Winter Plan will also affect thousands of patients and add to the already record waiting lists for hospital treatment and appointments to see a Consultant.
The IHCA President said there is a clear requirement for an accelerated commissioning plan to urgently put in place the 2,600 additional acute hospital beds promised earlier this year in the Government’s National Development Plan.
He also highlighted that our public hospitals are failing to provide the care that patients need and deserve because there are 1 in 5 approved permanent consultant posts that cannot be filled as a consequence of the Government’s persistent and blatant discrimination against New Entrant Consultants.
For further information contact:
James Dunny, FleishmanHillard 086 388 3903